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'Moving Image: Portraiture' Opens This Weekend at UMMA

Final Borusan Contemporary Exhibition On View July 29

Drawn from the Borusan Contemporary Art Collection in Istanbul, Turkey, an exhibition of time-based works by artists Hannu Karjalainen, Daniel Rozin, and Marina Zurkow will be on view at the UMMA July 29 through November 26. 

Hannu Karjalainen, 'Towards An Architect,' 2010, HD video, 5’ 15’’. Edition 2/5 + 2 AP. Courtesy of Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska.Moving Image: Portraiture, developed for and presented at UMMA, reveals how these artists use dynamic technologies—including digitized images and video—to explore the genre. The exhibition is organized by Kathleen Forde, Borusan Contemporary’s Artistic Director at Large and UMMA’s Adjunct Curator of Media Arts, as part of a suite of three exhibitions representing traditional categories—landscape, performance, and portraiture—that find new resonances when explored through technological strategies.

Towards An Architect (2010) by Finnish artist Hannu Karjalainen (right) is a video installation interpreting the legacy of modernism as demonstrated in the work and writings of Le Corbusier, a pioneer of modern architecture, design, and urban planning. The work depicts a fictional architect who stares at the viewer as wall paint based on Le Corbusier’s color palette—designed to induce feelings of harmony—is poured over his head and drips over his shoulders.

It is inspired by a true story about the architect who designed the Fleury-Mérogis prison, the largest in Europe, in the 1960s. The notoriously overcrowded prison looked like a Le Corbusier-influenced housing unit but soon deteriorated. Traumatized by their experience, some former prisoners broke into the architect’s office in the 1980s and held a gun to his head while they destroyed his office.

New York-based artist Daniel Rozin’s interactive installations and sculptures integrate the viewer in real time to create a representation of the viewer’s likeness in the object. His kinetic “mirrors” are often made with materials that become unexpectedly reflective, responding to a person’s presence via a camera and physical computing or custom software. Reflection and surface transformation become a means to explore human behavior, representation, and perception.

Mirror No. 10 (2009) generates a live reflection of its display environment and whoever is in front of it. On-screen imagery appears to be sketched and is built visually by a hatched line drawing that is constantly in flux. Trails of movement form a textured surface, echoing the gesture of viewers, through software designed by Rozin.

Marina Zurkow, also based in New York City, works with media technology, animation, and video. Mesocosm (Northumberland, UK) (2011) is an algorithmic work representing the passage of time on the moors of northeast England. While the images of the landscape and characters in the video are drawn by hand, frame-by-frame, their choreographies are dynamic—never repeated—dictated by constraints in real-time. One hour passes in each minute of screen time, so that one year lasts 146 hours. No cycle is identical to the last as the appearance and behavior of the human and non-human characters, as well as changes in the weather, are determined by a code using a simple probability equation. Seasons change, days elapse, moons rise and set, animals come and go, around a central human figure.

The man with his back to the viewer is based on Lucian Freud’s painting of Leigh Bowery, the performance artist, designer, and drag queen who helped catalyze the interdisciplinary experimental art scene in London in the 1980s. In Mesocosm (Northumberland, UK), he acts as a bridge between the landscape and creatures inhabiting it.

“The works in this exhibition challenge traditional notions of portraiture. Through the application of digital and video systems—including hand-drawn animation and manipulated real-time mirroring—these artists render subjects in a diversity of milieus. No longer the still- life portrait of the past, these barrier-pushing approaches enable exploration of human behavior, representation, and perception,” said Forde.

About Borusan Contemporary

Borusan Contemporary is a multi-platform program of exhibitions, events, educational activities, new commissions, and site-specific installations rooted in Borusan Contemporary Art Collection in Istanbul, Turkey. These activities are defined by their specific focus on media arts broadly defined, i.e. artists who work with time, light, technology, video, software, and beyond. Most of the program takes place at Perili Köşk Istanbul, and co-exists with the offices of Borusan Holding, in essence creating a unique museum in an office setting. The entire building including the galleries, office space, café, Borusan Art Store and outdoor terraces with breathtaking views of the Bosphorus are open to the public on weekends.